Colombian women coffee farmers welcome balanced nutrition advice

30 October 2020

The benefits and practicalities of balanced fertilization have been creatively conveyed to a group of women coffee farmers in Colombia in time for them to put their new knowledge into practice.

Time to reverse declining yields

This is the time of year when the members of the Association of Women Coffee Producers of Pescador apply fertilizers to their coffee plantations. However, not many of the growers carry out soil tests or balance the nutrition they apply. The result has been ever-declining under-nutrition and disappointing coffee yields, lower than 1.5 tons/ha.

Measure and monitor to choose and use micro and macronutrients

This year the farmers were invited to a training day held by ICL agronomist Dr. Alveiro Salamanca Jiménez in Pescador, in the heart of the Cauca region where all the women belonging to the Association live and have their small farms.

As well as outlining the benefits of balanced nutrition to their coffee crop and likely improvement in yields, Alveiro explained to the producers how to restore supplies of essential nutrients. In particular, potassium, calcium, magnesium and sulphur are often lacking in the soils of the area and consequently limit the coffee plants’ ability to use other nutrients purchased and applied, such as nitrogen and phosphorus.

Counting on balanced crop nutrition

The women coffee producers wanted a clear nutrition strategy to replace their usual practice of applying fertilizer at 100 g/tree. Applying Polysulphate at 30 g/tree plus an adjusted dose of NPK was the recommendation.

Since the training day there has been follow-up discussion among the group: how to use soil analyses to adjust their coffee nutrition strategy accordingly year to year; how to measure how much their crop nutrition costs will be cut; and evaluating the cost-benefit of investing time and money in balanced crop nutrition.

In the meantime, with better nutrition applied, their hoped-for better harvest and improved quality of coffee beans starts to grow in their plantations.